St Martin in the Fields, London
Hiding in plain sight, St. Martin in the Fields church is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of central London. Bordering the northeastern edge of Trafalgar Square, most tourists and indeed Londoners simply hurry past on a daily basis. Don't be one of them. Whether visiting the pigeon covered lion statues or the nearby National Gallery, head to St. Martin's to refuel and refresh in the basement Café in the Crypt. Literally set in the old crypt of the church, the café serves food and refreshment throughout the entire day. Enjoy a warming bowl of pea soup or a pot of loose leaf tea with scones beneath the 18th century brick vaulted ceilings and historic tombstones at your feet. If you have kids in tow or perhaps looking for a unique souvenir from London, wander out to the adjacent shop to try your hand at brass rubbing. A popular pastime in Victorian London, brass rubbings offered visitors to sacred churches a way to take home a memento of their experience. With some paper and a waxy crayon, visitors could trace over the brass monuments that marked burial places and decorated the church. Eventually, the extensive rubbing caused damage, so the church created sets of replica brasses to carry on the tradition to this day. The St. Martin in the Fields collection features over 100 replica brasses from churches and cathedrals across the UK, including medieval knights in armor, fire-breathing dragons, and bejeweled ladies in waiting of rescue. Pull up a table, grab a few different colors of waxy crayons, and get creative.